Heidegger and Nazism - Was Heidegger Anti-Semitic?

Was Heidegger Anti-Semitic?

Emmanuel Faye claims Heidegger criticized the "Judaization" ("Verjudung") of German universities in 1916, and favored instead the promotion of the "German race" ("die deutsche Rasse"). However, this claim is based on indirect evidence: a non-extant letter of Heidegger's quoted by Edmund Husserl twenty years later. Faye also claims that Heidegger said of Spinoza that he was "ein Fremdkörper in der Philosophie", a "foreign body in philosophy" — Faye notes that Fremdkörper was a term that belonged to Nazi vocabulary, and not to classical German. But this quote is not to be found in Heidegger's writings. Moreover, Rüdiger Safranski reports that Heidegger in the 30's defended Spinoza during a lecture, arguing that if Spinoza's philosophy is Jewish, then the whole of philosophy from Leibniz to Hegel is Jewish as well.

Farias tells that the widow of Ernst Cassirer claimed she had heard of Heidegger's "inclination to anti-Semitism" by 1929. Farias tells also that in June 1933, Karl Jaspers criticized The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a propaganda book supporting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, and Jaspers recalled much later that Heidegger had responded: "But there is a dangerous international alliance of Jews." However, Jaspers testified in his report (December 1945) : "In the 20's Heidegger was no anti-Semite. With respect to this question he did not always exercise discretion. This doesn't rule out the possibility that, as I must assume, in other cases anti-Semitism went against his conscience and his taste." There were "rumors" that Heidegger was anti-Semitic already in 1932, and he was aware of them, and vehemently denied them, calling them "slander" in a letter to Hannah Arendt. In response to her concern about these rumors that he was becoming anti-Semitic, Heidegger wrote ironically :

This man who comes anyway and urgently wants to write a dissertation is a Jew. The man who comes to see me every month to report on a large work in progress is also a Jew. The man who sent me a substantial text for an urgent reading a few weeks ago is a Jew. The two fellows whom I helped get accepted in the last three semesters are Jews. The man who, with my help, got a stipend to go to Rome is a Jew. Whoever wants to call this 'raging anti-Semitism' is welcome to do so. Beyond that, I am now just as much an anti-Semite in University issues as I was ten years ago in Marburg. To say absolutely nothing about my personal relationships with Jews . And above all it cannot touch my relationship to you.

According to Karl Löwith, several Nazis themselves seemed not to believe in Heidegger's anti-Semitism :

The petty-bourgeois orthodoxy of the party was suspicious of Heidegger’s National Socialism insofar as Jewish and racial considerations played no role. Sein und Zeit was dedicated to the Jew Husserl, his Kant-book to the half-Jew Scheler, and in his courses at Freiburg, Bergson and Simmel were taught. His spiritual concerns did not seem to conform to those of the “Nordic race”, which cared little about Angst in the face of nothingness. Conversely, Professor H. Naumann did not hesitate to explain German mythology with the help of concepts from Sein und Zeit, discovering “care” in Odin and the “they” in Baldur. Yet neither the aforementioned disdain or approval of his National Socialist credentials counts for much in itself. Heidegger’s decision for Hitler went far beyond simple agreement with the ideology and program of the Party. He was and remained a National Socialist, as did Ernst Jünger, who was certainly on the margins and isolated, but nevertheless far from being without influence. Heidegger’s influence came through the radicalism with which he based the freedom of one’s ownmost individual as well as German Dasein on the manifestness of the naught (des Nichts).

Heidegger ridiculised the anti-Semitic ideology and the nazi identification of Judaism and Communism when he ironically wrote down in 1936 (Emmanuel Faye astonishingly doesn't perceive irony at all, despite the final exclamation mark):

The final form of Marxism... has essentially nothing to do with either Judaism or even with Russia; if somewhere a non-developed spiritualism is still slumbering, it is in the Russian people; Bolshevism is originally Western; it is a European possibility: the emergence of the masses, industry, technology, the extinction of Christianity; but inasmuch as the dominance of reason as an equalizing of everyone is but the consequence of Christianity and as the latter is fundamentally of Jewish origin (cf. Nietzsche's thought on the slave revolt with respect to morality), Bolshevism is in fact Jewish; but then Christianity is also fundamentally Bolshevist!

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